Outstanding vacation entitlements accrued during part-time employment may be a financial burden to employers when employees switch to full-time employment.

Statutory minimums

According to section 2 of the Austrian Vacation Act (Urlaubsgesetz), both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to a minimum of five paid working weeks (six weeks after 25 working years) each year of employment.

When calculating vacation entitlements according to working days (Arbeitstage), the statutory entitlement to five working weeks of vacation is to be multiplied by the amount of working days rendered. Thus, based on a six-day working week, employ-ees are entitled to a minimum of 30 paid working days, based on a five-day working week to a minimum of 25 days, based on a four-day working week to a minimum of 20 days, and so on.

The calculation of these entitlements often raises doubts when the number of work-ing days is changed.

Switching from working part-time to working full-time

In a recent ruling, the Austrian Supreme Court outlined how vacation entitlements are to be calculated when an employee's number of working days per week has in-creased (OGH 24 October 2012, 8 ObA 35/12y).

According to this ruling, the amount of vacation not consumed during the period in which the employee worked a shorter working week is to be adjusted to the changed amount of working days. By doing so, employers have to ensure that the statutory entitlement to five (or six) working weeks of vacation remains unchanged.

For example, the entitlement to one day of vacation accrued during part-time em-ployment based on a one-day working week, needs to be increased to five days of vacation when carrying it over to a five-day working week. On the other hand, one day of vacation consumed during the part-time period equals five consumed vaca-tion days during the full-time period and, thus, needs to be subtracted accordingly.

As a result, vacation days not consumed during the part-time period may result in higher costs for employers when these entitlements are carried over to the period of full-time employment. In order to reduce such costs, it may be advisable to agree with employees on the consumption of outstanding vacation entitlements before they switch (back) to full-time employment.

However, it should be noted that employees cannot be unilaterally compelled by their employers to consume outstanding vacation entitlements.